Yesterday (Feb. 23), Halle Bailey graced the cover of The Face. For the shoot, the 22-year-old was adorned with colorful locs, a chic seashell top, and a red Diesel fin, a nod to her upcoming film, Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
The remake of the classic 1989 animated movie has brought on mixed responses for its forthcoming 2023 release — one of the recurring factors being race. In the original, the film’s star character, a princess named Ariel, is white. Bailey is Black. Many have openly voiced their concerns about Disney releasing a progressive project that varies from the traditional white roles they were accustomed to seeing. Debates have raged online regarding the topic since news broke in 2019 that she would play the lead in the live-action follow-up. But she’s not letting the critics phase her.
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“I know people are like: ‘It’s not about race.’ But now that I’m [Ariel], people don’t understand that when you’re Black, there’s this whole other community. It’s so important for us to see ourselves,” Bailey said in the interview. The announcement of her new role even sparked the social media hashtag #NotMyAriel. The songstress said, “As a Black person, you just expect it, and it’s not really a shock anymore.” She also noted that her mentor, Beyoncé, gave her great career advice early on, suggesting that she and her sister Chlöe Bailey avoid reading nasty comments online. The two siblings are singers signed to the Grammy winner’s Parkwood Entertainment company.
During the chat with the publication, Bailey also revealed her shock when she learned she’d been cast. Months had gone by since she auditioned, and she assumed the production chose to use another actress. The “Do It” artist remembered getting the call as she was packing up decorations from a celebration for Chlöe’s 21st birthday. After ignoring an unknown number, her father received a phone call from the film’s director, Rob Marshall, congratulating her on the achievement. The Little Mermaid — starring Melissa McCarthy as Ursula and Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric — swims into theaters on May 26.